peer pressure and audacity

Bill Maher has an interview in Time (June 5, 2006) in which he laments people’s reluctance to be provocative:
“I wouldn’t say there’s censorship in this country. But there’s a lot of peer pressure. Because when anybody says anything that’s the least bit feather ruffling, everybody just goes nuts. If anybody in this country is forced to undergo a single moment of discomfort, the person who caused it just must go away.”
Later in the issue, Joe Klein encourages Obama to run now while he’s still fresh, before he is “wizened by the accepted limits of the possible.”

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Jill Carroll

is a graduate of UMass’ Journalism Department. Her story was noted by the Poynter group’s weekly watch on media.
Our Jill details her personality, commitment, and personal courage. I’ve been wondering about courage, recently. One definition says to face danger or pain without showing fear, another says to face the same with self-possession.
The Christian Science Monitor is running updates in a blog-type format). Presently, no one knows if she’s still alive or not. Is she aware of the infrastructure of support around her? She must be – such things don’t materialize from nothing. Coverage has been extensive: Boston, a Marc Cooper blog entry with numerous links, a BBC story about the videotape shown by Al-Jazeera.

Raz sports an EU hat

Now, if they had just waited a month I could have been there for this historic vote!
“Bulgaria, Romania gain EU entry
Both countries still need to reforms to ensure membership
STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The European Parliament on Wednesday approved the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the European Union in 2007, but said both countries still need to make reforms.”

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a hopeful sign?

Acording to this opinion piece, “claims that evangelicals have hijacked the nation’s politics are greatly exaggerated. In fact, polling data show that President Bush’s political base is not religious but economic, the group he jokingly referred to as ‘the haves and the have mores.’
“The General Social Survey found that 20 percent of American voters have family incomes of more than $75,000 a year, while twice that many earn $30,000 or less. The high-income group (about the same size as the evangelicals) votes Republican by an 18-point margin, while the low-income group favors Democrats by 24 percentage points. If the Republicans were to lose their 18-point advantage among the affluent, it would cost them about four percentage points nationwide in the election, more than twice the cost if they were to lose their edge among evangelicals.”

control room

Raz is gonna love this documentary. Wish he was here to watch it with us tonight, but maybe we can see it together once he’s back in the country.
The line that struck me the most was Hassan, talking about how the American people will defeat the American empire. Not only are we, perhaps, the only ones who can, we are certainly the ones most closely positioned to do it sooner rather than later.
Prem said he thought this movie was more powerful than Fahrenheit 9/11. I’m not sure, but the two together certainly pack one heck of a whallop. Control Room adds no editorializing, one simply sees what folks are thinking in the moment, as opposed to the narrative storyline that ties the incidents of F 9/11 together. Each movie reveals facts. F 9/11 makes its case explicit, essentially telling you what you ought to think, what the evidence means. Control Room is more subtle, it assumes the audience can piece the evidence together without guidance.
I found it both disheartening and encouraging. It is encouraging to see the commitment and integrity to a journalism that struggles with itself as it seeks to represent events in the world that we all must grapple with and are affected by. At the same time, it is discouraging to be reminded, once again, of the formidable barriers in the way to peaceful co-existence and collaborative modes of problem-solving. Lt. Rushing states the contradiction most clearly when he says that he doesn’t like war but he doesn’t believe we’re ready to live in a world without war. I would suggest that most of us ARE ready to live in a world without war, but we must convince our political leaders that this is what they need to pursue, and that whatever costs or fears they have about peace’s uncertain (?) outcomes need to be faced squarely and openly, without compromise or rationalization.

war stories

Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience,” is aimed at preserving stories from the battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“War stories, after all, occupy one of literature’s longest, weightiest shelves, and American fighting men, from Ulysses S. Grant to Anthony Swofford, have set down their battle-forged memoirs, but these days the military and literary worlds barely overlap.
“These are two parts of society that don’t ordinarily talk to each other,” said Dana Gioia, the endowment chairman. “And we thought, what would happen if we got them in a conversation?”
~NYTimes Trying to Make the Pen as Mighty as the Sword